In this environment firms have to adjust in order to survive. It requires them to better utilise their resources in order to be efficient and competitive. It is the environment that puts organisations under pressure, but that does not mean that the same organisations need to play a passive, reactive role.
Obviously, the environment is creating a challenge for firms to find a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors and to find their competitive advantage. As competitive advantage is defined as something created by resources and/or capabilities that are valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, and cannot be substituted, companies have a potent tool in their hands in the form of a system of management, utilising their own resources and creating corporate culture.
Many scholars as well as practitioners will agree that people represent the prime asset of an organisation that perfectly fits the definition mentioned above. People are the one resource that can make a difference, that help define uniqueness and, if managed properly, is extremely difficult to copy.
People are the potential that forms the human capital of an organisation, in other words, people form the overall knowledge base and skill inventory of the organisation. In this sense, there is no question of whether to develop employees or not - the benefits of having a skilled and well-educated workforce are obvious. Moreover, developing employees enables firms to be simultaneously both proactive and reactive.
On the other hand, it is the influence of the business environment that defines positions and consequently the skills and abilities of those who are either employed or those who actively seek employment. In the dynamics of today's environment it is just natural to assume that the future of employability lies in two key points: attitude towards learning and speed of learning.
Attitude towards learning is reflected in both the ability and willingness to learn and also mirrors individuals' learning habits. An underlying assumption here is that the individuals understand the concept of lifetime learning as an inevitable prerequisite for their competitiveness on the labour market. The speed of learning can be understood more as the flexibility in acquiring necessary new knowledge and skills. Individuals themselves should be able to identify the skills and competencies they do not possess and determine what skills are necessary for them to either do their jobs at the required level and quality or be competitive while searching for a new job.
Some authors propose that in a dynamic, unpredictable environment, firms might achieve a fit with the demands of the competitive environment by using organic human resource systems that promote development of the human capital pool. This stresses the interdependence of human resource activities such as job analysis, performance appraisal and employee development. The focus of all human resource activities, however, should remain strategic - carrying out all these activities with the goal of creating a competitive advantage in one's mind.
Stanislava Luptáková is a lecturer at Comenius University's Faculty of Management. Her column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to Stanislava.Luptakova@fm.uniba.sk.
15. May 2000 at 0:00 | Stanislava Luptáková